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Framework for Researchers Working with University-Based Collections

NSERC recognizes that many of the recommendations and good practices described in this Framework have financial implications for NSERC-funded research. To that end, costs related to the maintenance of collections are eligible expenses under NSERC grants.

Researchers who have large collections may consider applying to NSERC’s Major Resources Support (MRS) Grants program, whose objective is to facilitate the effective access by Canadian academic researchers to major and unique national or international (based in Canada) experimental or thematic research resources by financially assisting these resources to remain in a state of readiness for researchers to use. Supported resources are those that cannot fully cover such costs by using other research grants or by user fees, or those where user fees cannot be leveraged. The grants assist resources that are significant in size, value or importance, and that are not customary in a discipline or commonly available in Canadian universities. Supported resources must be used by researchers from several institutions (including universities, government laboratories, or companies) across Canada. Major resources supported by this program may include university-based collections of specialized samples or objects.

In the case of experimental resources, MRS grants provide funding to assist coverage of the following costs:

  • salaries of technical and professional research support staff employed to operate and maintain the resource, and provide assistance to users;
  • operation and maintenance of the resource;
  • materials, supplies and minor equipment essential to the operation and maintenance of the resource;
  • travel expenses for resource support staff to attend conferences as part of the resource’s plan to keep abreast of scientific and technical advances;
  • dissemination costs as part of the applicant’s outreach activities towards relevant communities; and
  • operation of scientific review panels and governing bodies.

It should be noted that MRS Grants support costs required to maintain the resource in a state of readiness for the user. In the case of experimental resources, they do not support the incremental costs associated with individual use of the resource; such recoverable costs should be charged to users as “user fees.” Furthermore, MRS grants cannot be used to pay for any indirect costs of research or expenses that are central or departmental institutional costs. Moreover, MRS grants cannot be used to pay for the establishment, construction or infrastructure expansion of a resource.